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3:33 Sports Short #22 // Foil by Ann E. Michael

Today's duo of Sports Shorts both share formal qualities insofar as both are short, lyric, meditative bursts on sports quite different from one another: fencing and professional wrestling. Below is Ann E. Michael on the former, click here for Dylan D. Debelis on the latter.

Foil once meant the material one wraps leftovers in. Then my family, myself excluded, took up fencing. This is what I loved: the jargon of the sport. Strip, lunge, parry, riposte, flèche, arrêt, lamé, plastron, disengage, off-target or, god forbid, corps-à-corps—attack, attack, attack. Arcane-seeming, so damned French, not a team sport, it fit my children’s temperaments. Speed and reflexes, the need for quick eyes; I never did develop the acuity necessary for a fine understanding of the bouts but sat with parents and coaches engaged in the weave and leap occurring on the piste. I read them too many fairy tales, I thought to myself; of course they became enamored with swordplay. But I could not deny the grace, the fluidity of slender blades thrust and recoiled, whip-like, as youthful bodies evaded one another, curved in air. And the call of the directeur: touché.

Ann E. Michael is a poet, essayist, librettist, educator and author of Water-Rites, among other poetry collections. Her poems and essays have appeared in Poem, Natural Bridge, Ninth LetterThe Comstock Review, Diner, Sentence, Slant, ISLE, The Writer’s Chronicle, and others.